On May 21, 2015 a few days ahead of the Irish referendum over gay marriage Fergus Finlay, a former senior member of the Irish Labour Party and a weekly columnist with the Irish Examiner wrote the following : “We can choose to be open or closed, to be brave or afraid, to have hope or anxiety, to choose love or to cling to the past. We can look our friends in the eye, or we can avert our gaze. We can say NO. Or we can say, with a full heart, YES.
Johanna Siguroardottir (born 1942), in 2010,while in office as Iceland's prime minister, she married her partner in what was believed to be the first same-sex wedding of a ruling government leader in Europe. In 2002, she had joined in a civil union with Jonina Leosdottir (born 1954), an author and playwright.
Xavier Bettel (born 1973), the Prime Minister of Luxembourg married his Belgian partner Gauthier Destenay a year after the tiny, staunchly Roman Catholic nation's parliament approved a law allowing same-sex marriage. The official ceremony was held at Luxembourg City Hall on Friday May 15 , 2015. Bettel, a 42-year-old lawyer, heads the free-market DP liberals, who entered a coalition government with the Socialists and the Greens to end 34 years of Christian Democrat reign in Luxembourg. On July 1, this nation of 520,000 will take over the presidency of the 28-nation European Union, giving Bettel major international exposure.
James Hormel (born 1933) is an American philanthropist and noted LGBT activist. He is the former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg; appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999. He was the first openly LGBT person to serve as a U.S. Ambassador. In 1994, President Bill Clinton considered Hormel for the ambassadorship to Fiji, but did not put the nomination forward due to protests from Fiji officials. In October 1997 Clinton nominated Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg, which had removed laws prohibiting consensual same-sex acts between adults in the 1800s. This appointment was the first nomination or appointment of an openly LGBT person from the U.S. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination with only Republican and conservative Senators Jesse Helms and John Ashcroft opposed. Three other Republicans, James Inhofe, Tim Hutchinson, and Bob Smith, with the urging of religious and social conservatives campaigned vigorously against Hormel's nomination. Trent Lott, the Republican Majority Leader, worked to block the vote and publicly called homosexuality a sin and compared it to alcoholism and kleptomania. Christian-based conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) and the Family Research Council publicly accused Hormel of being pro-pornography and anti-Catholic and the Senators presented those charges to derail the nomination. They asserted that Hormel would be rejected in the largely Catholic Luxembourg. To support the pornography allegation, a list of materials in the Hormel collection at the San Francisco Public Library was compiled by the TVC; it was later pointed out that the same works were also in the Library of Congress. Concerns about Hormel's reception in Luxembourg were "blunted” when officials of the country, which has laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation, indicated that he would be welcome.
If you want to learn more about your gay heritage and those who paved the way, through activism, sacrifi ce, courage and civil disobedience to give us a better and freer life you can visit The Stonewall Museum & Archives in Wilton Manors. We should all know who our gay heroes are and be thankful for what they did on our behalf.